Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where Do I Belong? (Update)

Conversation with DD1

"You asked me this morning a question that I said we could talk about in more detail this evening. You wanna do that now?"
DD1, "Okay."
"You asked, 'Where do I belong?' Now that is a question that almost everyone your age starts asking and it is one you will be asking yourself and answering for the rest of your life. Sometimes you won't have answers. Sometimes the answers will change. But for the most part, you are the one who will have to answer that question and while Pappi and I will always try and help you with your answers, for the most part it is something you will have to figure out yourself. Do you understand?"

DD1, "Yeah, kinda."

"But there is also part of that question that you are asking, that I can give you an answer to. You want to know how to deal with the issues of your home country and your culture and how you identify yourself, right?"

DD1, "Yeah, everyone else in my class gets to say things like 'I'm Italian' or 'I'm Israeli'. What can I say? I'm not Dutch. Pappi's German, but I'm not. You're American, but I haven't been there for more than a month or so. So what am I?"

"You, my love, are very lucky, that's what you are. You are a child of the world. You can say you are German, because your Pappi is German and you can have a German passport. You can say you are a US citizen and you do have a passport. When you are 18, you can even decide if you want to be Dutch because you were born here and went to Dutch schools. Also because of your father and grandfather, you could even apply for an Italian passport, but you might have to learn to speak the language first, I'm not sure."

DD1. "I want to learn Italian. I'm learning Spanish next year and Elise says that Spanish is a lot like Italian."

"Yes it is. So when you get a bit older, you will be able to choose which passport you get. By then it might not even matter. There may be an EU passport then so it doesn't matter which EU country you're from. But that is only part of the answer. Where you belong doesn't necessarily mean where you were born or which language you speak. Where your home is isn't just where you live or where you grew up. There's a saying that 'Home is where the heart is' and that is really true. Home is where the ones you love are. Home is where your family is. And sometimes 'family' is not someone you are related to by blood, but also people you welcome into your life. Do you know what I mean?"

DD1, "Like someone you marry?"

"Exactly, but not just that. Also the friends that you share your daily activities with, people you talk to about problems, people that you can call on when you need help. So that's your own 'created family'. And when you ask where you belong, then the answer is 'you belong to the people you love and who love you'. What do you think about that?" DD1 doesn't answer, but cuddles closer and actually crawls into my lap. I know this is a small victory as she has never been a lap child, even as a toddler.

And the great thing about this kind of belonging, is that no matter where you move to, no matter what language you speak or where you travel, you will always belong in the hearts of those who love you. And however else you answer that question, that part will stay the same. Does that answer your question?"

DD1, "Yeah Mom, but it doesn't help when I have to do a project on my 'home country'."

"We'll deal with that when the time comes, okay? Now cuddle with Pappi and off to bed." She goes to have a cuddle with DH and he reinforces what I've been saying in their German conversation. She doesn't realize how lucky she is. She doesn't feel yet that she belongs anywhere in the world. But I know she will find her place. And I know it will not necessarily be the one I pick out for her. But for now it doesn't matter. The identity crisis has been averted, or at least appeased for now. And we can all smile for a bit.

I want to thank all of you who have commented and shared your thoughts and wisdom on this. Most especially thanks go to Shelly who provided a link and used her network of ex-pats which resulted in some new blog-friends with advice. Special thanks for inspiration go to Anno, Rock Chick, Stacy and Jen whose words I used to shape my answer to DD1. I feel like I came off wiser than I think I am, but what is important is I have given her some things to think about along with the reassurance she was looking for.

What a great blog-family I am creating for myself!


soccer mom in denial said...

Lovely. Just lovely. Well done mama.

Real Life Drama Queen said...

FANTASTIC!!! You did a great job. You sound like one hell of a mom!! Kudos!

Stacy said...

I have tears in my eyes. You done good.

Robin said...

What a beautiful answer. Well done mom!

Jenn in Holland said...

Ah, friend, the tears are just rolling down my cheeks. So well said, so well shared. And so, so true. You are my family babe, cuz girl, you are in my heart.

Jenn in Holland said...

Since you made me cry, I did something for you. Just kidding, it's not about the tears at all, but pop on over and see what ya got!

anno said...

This is beautiful. Just perfect. I'd say you definitely turned your crisis into an opportunity -- thanks for posting this!

Mom not Mum said...

Aw you did do a fantastic job. It is tough raising children in a different country and I'm sure with the added bonus of a German father that really mixes it up. People often ask me if I am bothered by my children having "british accents" of course I am not ( aside from the mum thing) because this is who my children are currently as a result of WHERE we have chosen to live. If you don't mind I'll add you to my blog as well.

jennifer said...

Beautiful post. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for your lovely comment.
I have an endless admiration, fascination, trepidation for mathy people. I'm going to really love reading about you.

Jen said...

This is perfect. Such a wonderful, rich life you're all leading. And she will have such marvelous opportunities as a result. And I loved her comment about the school project! ;-)

I don't understand why schools universally want children to put themselves in easy "boxes."

Fourier Analyst said...

What wonderful comments. Thanks to all. I know we lead a charmed life in many ways, though often the price of being so far away from "family" does seem a bit steep. But the old adage "You get what you pay for" does hold some truth.

What was so nice about blogging on this topic is getting to "meet" so many moms who have faced/are facing the same dilemma. Welcome to you all and I look forward to reading about your experiences!